Rank-and-file team contests Sydney Uni NTEU elections

Photo: Rank-and-File Action USYD

Rank-and-file members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of Sydney (USyd) have launched a ticket for the union elections in August. The Rank-and-File Action (RAFA) ticket is campaigning for a fair university and education for all.

RAFA candidates are committed to building a progressive, democratic union branch from the ground up. They want the union to be member-led rather than the officials driving decision-making.

USyd is currently bargaining for a new enterprise agreement. RAFA is committed to building mass support for the industrial action needed to win the branch’s log of claims, which include: a real pay rise; sick pay; equal super; all hours paid and job security for casuals; job security and redeployment clauses for continuing staff; and defending work load committees.

RAFA’s vision for a better, more inclusive university and what the NTEU needs to do to achieve this is outlined on its website.

It wants a democratic workplace where staff and students have a real role in shaping education and research; an end to exploitative casualisation and insecure work (more than 74% of staff are currently on insecure contracts); an end to wage theft; and an end to pervasive overwork.

RAFA believes social justice is an integral part of union organising and is committed to taking a stand against “racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, war and nuclear proliferation, and for causes like climate justice, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice and Palestinian liberation”.

In the context of ongoing industrial action from nurses, teachers and rail workers in New South Wales, building solidarity with rank-and-file workers at other universities and in other industries is an important part of RAFA’s approach.

RAFA argues that rules restricting workers’ rights to strike, such as rules preventing striking outside of enterprise bargaining rounds or striking in solidarity with workers in other sectors, need to be challenged so that workers “win lasting change”.

Markela Panegyres, a casual academic and RAFA candidate for branch committee member, told Green Left that the ticket represents a desire for real change among union members.

“We want to pursue a transformative vision for a better, inclusive university, and want a more transparent, democratic, accessible and non-sectarian union,” she said.

Voting opens on August 3 and closes on August 29. RAFA is launching its campaign on July 21. It will also be holding a series of forums about workers’ rights and the importance of striking.

[Follow RAFA on Facebook to find out more.]